Humanity needs to grow up in the face of AI, warns Google ethics advisor

Hong Kong-based professor says human culture needs to be altered in order to deal with AI's rapid advance


A member of Google's 2019 Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), has claimed that humanity should be wary of AI, claiming the technology is unlike anything we have dealt with before.

De Kai, who is professor of computer science and engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and distinguished research scholar at Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute, said that human culture had to be altered and that humans needed "to grow up as a species" in order to deal with AI.

According to a report from the South China Morning Post, De Kai said: "We are near an era when people can easily produce weapons such as fleets of armed AI drones.

"AI is not the fourth of anything," De Kai said in response to claims that AI represented the fourth industrial revolution. "It is the first. It's always comforting to say we've seen things like this happening before and we know how to tackle this by drawing lessons from history – absolutely we need to draw lessons from history as much as we can – but we also need to recognize that what we are facing now has no precedent.

"Our priority is to alter human culture – we need to grow up as a species," added De Kai, whose AI research has focused on natural language processing (NLP), language technology, music technology and machine learning.

While Google has yet to comment on De Kai's remarks, the HKUST professor joins a growing list of experts warning against the growing maturity of AI, which includes the likes of Tesla's Elon Musk and the late physicist Stephen Hawking.

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